COVID-19 has made a huge impact on many people all across the world, and its put many people out of jobs and at some high risks etc. So here at The Vinyl we wanted to celebrate the insanely talented creators in the photography business. We are celebrating the Concert Photographers, the Lifestyle Photographers, the Wedding Photographers, the Wildlife Photographers and every other type of Photographer behind that camera that brings such joy to the eye.

Introducing Mike Kimchi from our Nations Capital!

The Vinyl: Please introduce yourself and tell us your primary photo location(s)?
Mike Kimchi: My name is Mike Kimchi. The main 3 things you need to know is that I like music, I like photography and I like Kimchi. I started Kimchi Photography 2 years ago and I have been shooting at various concerts, private events & portraits in the Washington DC area.
TV: How did you know that being a photographer is something you truly wanted to do, and what/who are some inspirations you may have had/have?
MK: ​It was when I was editing photos for Unknown Mortal Orchestra. They are one of my favorite bands and they put up an amazing show at 9:30 club. I came back home and started to edit all the photos. It was exhilarating and very satisfying when you nail that one photo. By the time I was finished, it was 5 AM in the morning and I had to go to work in 2 hours. I didn’t feel tired at all and I only felt complete satisfaction and accomplishment.. That’s when I knew this is something I wanted to do and photography has become a part of my identity since then.

My main inspirations are Natalie Somkeh, Pooneh Ghana & Annie Leibovitz.

Natalie & Pooneh are amazing photographers who tour with bands and shoot for all these music festivals. I really love how they capture artists’ performances and they were the first concert photographers I looked up to. Annie Leibovitz, of course, is one of the greatest photographers and her portraits are very intimate and personal.

TV: What equipment is a must-have for you no matter where you are going to be working? What does your typical photographing setup look like?
MK: My usual setup is Sony A7III with 24-70mm 2.8 lens. I also have my 85mm 1.8 lens if I ever want to get up close. Sometimes I would borrow a 70-200mm 2.8 lens if the show only allows shots from the soundboard or far away. I just got into putting a lens filter and incorporated that into my photos.

What are some of your favorite techniques when it comes to editing styles/ways you present your work? Do you have different aesthetics for different types of work?
MK: I love working with the tone curves in the Adobe Lightroom. There is an endless possibility to make the photos look and feel different. Sometimes, I would combine 2 different presets and it would come out amazing. I have a standard preset I apply but the most fun part is messing it up and creating something different. For concert aesthetics, I try to make it as big as possible or capture a specific movement. It is really about visioning the feel of the performance into the photo. For events, I try to show the excitement of it. I get wide shots of the event to show the scale of it. Also, people enjoying the event is a must.
TV: COVID-19 has completely changed the lifestyle for soooo many different people, how has it effected you? Whether its work/photo related or just all together? How do you keep yourself busy?
MK: This crisis definitely affected my life the same as everyone, working from home and social distancing. All the events/concerts until May have been postponed or canceled and almost everything in DC is closed right now. Normal days, I would come back from work around 6 pm and get ready for a show or event by 7 or 8. I am not a person that likes to stay in one place so staying at home has been a major adjustment. But I have been keeping myself busy through jogging, reading, and finding some goodies on Spotify.  Also, I just got to learn how to do night film photography and have been experimenting with that.
TV: Now that Concerts/Festivals/Events/ Social Gatherings(weddings, reunions, family portraits etc) /Sports etc are being cancelled/postponed all over the world due to COVID-19, how are you finding ways to stay creative?
MK: Luckily, I still have hundreds of photos I have yet to get through and this is definitely a unique opportunity to keep my creative juice flowing. Before the crisis got severe, I was going outside to take photos of the quarantined scene. Mark Webber is an amazing photographer who does night film photography. So I wanted to try to incorporate that into the city DC and show the quarantined scene of DC. I also have a photography studio set in my living room. I have some weird ideas with all the backdrops I have. But I just finished one with a kimchi jar with birthday candles because recently it was my birthday. So I might do something more since I can’t get outside too often.
TV: Once all this (hopefully) goes away, what are some of your plans to get back to a somewhat “normal” schedule?
MK: Just going to try my best to get back to “normal” activities as much as I can. I am still planning to shoot shows/events and practice the opposite of social distancing. I was also planning to travel this year so we’ll see how that goes. But after this crisis passes, things are definitely not going to be the same and we all have to adjust.    
TV: What are some of your favorite creative pieces/photos/opportunities you have gotten to do in 2020 before all hell broke loose?
MK: For this year, I had a big plan to expand my photography from local to regionals. I was planning to shoot music festivals through publications or marketing agencies. I was also continuing to work for events at The Wharf and I was getting hired a lot for corporate events. Also, I was going to SXSW in Austin with the Capitol Sound DC crew. We had a lot of plans to cover various artists in the festival. I was especially looking forward to interviewing and taking portraits in SXSW.
Here are a few of Mike’s favorite photos:
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Is there anything you would like to add as we end this interview?
MK: Hope everyone is safe and well. If you have an opportunity to support others, please do as much as you can. Because even when this pandemic is over, we have a lot more challenges ahead of us. Please support your local music community whether through Gofundme or purchasing artists’ merch.